EU poll observers caution against election law review

The European Union elections observer mission has warned against making changes to the electoral laws by MPs and said the plan risked undermining the fresh presidential elections.

The observer mission, said in a statement on Tuesday that none of the proposed amendments are critical for the country in its quest to comply with international commitments. Similarly, the amendments, the mission said, could be significant in helping to improve the integrity of the elections as ordered by the Supreme Court.

While poking holes at some of the changes contained in the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill, the EU mission said proceeding to pass the proposals before the October polls would be a highly problematic process, with changes being extremely controversial.

UNDERMINE INTEGRITY

Of concern to the mission, are proposals to give prominence to the manual transmission of results, a reduction of powers of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairperson as well as the changes to the composition of the commission.

These, the EU mission said, would weaken safeguards to the electoral process and undermine integrity.

“Changes to the composition of the IEBC and the powers of the chairperson are not appropriate mid-way through an electoral operation. The reduced requirements for a quorum risk inconsistent decision-making,” said EU Observer mission head Marietje Schaake.

Already, an Ad-hoc Committee set up by the National Assembly to review the two Bills has invited submissions from members of the public and interested parties.

The EU mission had earlier made 18 recommendations for the re-run, nine of which were directed to the IEBC.

EMBRACE DIALOGUE

Consequently, the mission warned that the demands by both Jubilee and Nasa for far-reaching changes to the election administration need to be matched with the constitutional requirements for the re-run.

Excessive demands, which cannot be met by the IEBC, warned Ms Schaake, place an extraordinary burden on the institution and escalate tension and antagonism in the election.

“The EU EOM suggests that contenders focus as a matter of urgency on practical and meaningful integrity measures that can be realistically undertaken to strengthen operations and systems,” Ms Schaake, a member of Member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, added.

The EU mission, has equally rallied the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led Jubilee party and the National Super Alliance of Raila Odinga to embrace dialogue and break the deadlock on the impending polls.

The demands and accusations from both sides of the political divide are having an antagonistic effect, escalating tensions and risking instability and violence, said the mission.

“The EU EOM suggests that the IEBC provide regular public information on the measures it is undertaking in view of the Supreme Court ruling and demonstrate stronger transparency,” said Ms Schaake.

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